VOLUME XIII,  ISSUE 3 - JULY- AUGUST,  2018

mopar memos The latest news, rumours & Info!

EVENT COVERAGE

NHRA at Brainerd, Minnesota

 

Photos courtesy FCA US and by Ron Lewis

Jack Beckman raced to victory on Aug. 19 in an all-Mopar Dodge//SRT Funny Car final round matchup with teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., at the NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota, taking his second win of the season and the seventh of the year for a Mopar-powered Dodge//SRT Funny Car driver.

 

Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Beckman’s triumph is the 28th of his career in 56 final rounds, and his first at Brainerd International Raceway. Both Beckman and Johnson clinched spots in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs during the weekend, meaning all six DSR Mopar Dodge//SRT drivers in Funny Car and Top Fuel have earned berths with one race to spare before the start of the six-race playoffs in mid-September. Mopar Dodge//SRT competitors have now combined for 10 wins this season in the NHRA Funny Car and Top Fuel classes.

 

The Infinite Hero Dodge driver’s road to the final was anything but easy after starting in the bottom half of the field at No. 14. First up was Mopar DSR teammate and three-time 2018 event winner Matt Hagan, who Beckman was able to defeat with a 4.044-second elapsed time (ET) at 312.64 mph despite dealing with a dropped cylinder. In the 650th round of his career, Beckman’s 3.980 run knocked out Shawn Langdon in the quarterfinals. It wasn’t enough to earn the 2012 Funny Car champion lane choice in the semifinals against points leader Courtney Force, but Beckman used a slight starting line advantage and 3.968/325.14 pass to take down Force and advance to the all-Mopar Dodge final against Johnson.

 

Beckman’s third career final round appearance at Brainerd was a charm, as a sharp .027 reaction time off the starting line paired with his quickest run of race day, 3.961 at 325.69 mph, propelled “Fast” Jack to his first winner’s circle celebration at Brainerd. Beckman’s other win of 2018 came back in March at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida. The final-round appearance was Beckman’s third of the 2018 season.

Jack Beckman (left) with Mopar Motorsports Marketing Manager Eddie Olsen, after his NHRA Nationals victory in Brainerd. 

 

“I don’t think one race can make or break you. I feel like if nothing else were to change this weekend but leaving with the trophy, it changes the psychology of everyone on the team. Yeah, you know you’re capable of winning, but the last time was at Gainesville. To put it back in the winner’s circle again just reaffirms that we are coming up on the Countdown and we have a contending car. I like the way that we didn’t start (this weekend) phenomenally, but we picked away at it and got better, and got significantly better each time down the track today.”

Tommy Johnson 

 

Johnson, last year’s Brainerd Funny Car runner-up, was looking to take it one step further and finish Sunday in the BIR winner’s circle for the second time in his career. Behind the wheel of his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T, Johnson started race day from the fifth spot, knocking out Del Worsham in round one. Against Tim Wilkerson in round two, Johnson and the John Collins-led team threw down a monster 3.937-second pass which held up to be low E.T. of race day and earned the team a spot in the semifinals for the third time in three races.

 

Versus semifinal opponent J.R. Todd, Johnson was out of the gate first and never trailed for the win, setting up the all-DSR matchup in the finals against Beckman. Although his losing 4.031/319.67 mark in the final was not enough to end the day with the Wally trophy, Johnson clinched his Countdown to the Championship playoff berth on Sunday.

Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver Hagan, a three-time event winner this season, entered eliminations on Sunday searching for his first career win at Brainerd International Raceway. Hagan, starting solidly in the top half of the field in the No. 3 spot, drew DSR teammate Beckman in a matchup of Mopar HEMI machines. Both drivers dropped a cylinder, but Hagan’s Dodge was unable to match Beckman’s quicker and faster pass, keeping a Brainerd win as one of the few “to-do” items on the two-time Funny Car champion’s bucket list. 

Fresh off of his 60th NHRA win and three consecutive final round appearances, Ron Capps entered Brainerd seeking his sixth title at the Minnesota track. Capps’ dominance continued in qualifying, earning the No. 2 spot in his Mopar-powered NAPA Dodge. In round one, Capps had the advantage at the starting line and held the lead over Jonnie Lindberg until just past halftrack when his car made a hard move toward the centerline followed by an engine malfunction, allowing Lindberg to claim the round win. Capps remains second in the standings. 

 

Mopar Dodge Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett, who took the top qualifier spot and event win in 2017 at Brainerd, started Sunday from the No. 8 position. Pritchett, runner-up in the most recent NHRA stop at Seattle and a two-time event winner this year, lined up in the first round against No. 9 qualifier Scott Palmer. The DSR driver’s hopes for a deep eliminations run ended when her dragster smoked the tires, with Palmer earning the win.

 

Tony Schumacher, “The Sarge,” qualified No. 7 in his HEMI-engine fueled U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster and knocked off Terry McMillen in round one. The eight-time Top Fuel champion clocked a quick 3.771 run in the quarterfinals, but was edged out at the finish stripe on a holeshot loss to Steve Torrence by a margin of about six inches.

 

Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight

 

Brian Johnson of Nowthen, Minnesota, raced a Mopar-powered 1973 Plymouth Duster 340 to his first career NHRA National event win in the Super Stock class, in his very first final-round appearance. Johnson qualified back in the pack at Brainerd, at No. 45 of 52 entries, then fought through six rounds to capture the victory. He defeated Jason DeForrest in the final, recording an 11.164/116.68 run after DeForrest left the starting line early and fouled out. The performance earned Johnson the Dodge Top Finisher award in Super Stock. 

 

In Stock Eliminator, Steve Scherschligt of Tea, South Dakota, repeated as the Dodge Top Finisher in the class, after winning the award in 2017 at Brainerd. Scherschligt posted his Mopar-powered 1973 Plymouth Satellite in the top ten during qualifying, earning the No. 8 spot with a 11.229-second pass that was 0.921 under index. Scherschligt marched all the way to the semifinals, where he lost on a red light foul after leaving too early against Randi Lyn Shipp.

 

The Dodge Top Finisher award, now in its second year, awards $500 to Stock Eliminator and Super Stock drivers who advance the furthest behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered Dodge, Chrysler, or Plymouth race car at all 24 NHRA national events. 

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